Dimitrov Dominates Tiafoe in Laver Cup Opener - UBITENNIS
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Dimitrov Dominates Tiafoe in Laver Cup Opener

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Grigor Dimitrov at the 2018 Laver Cup in Chicago (photo Instagram @lavercup)

-Chicago, Illinois

 

Grigor Dimitrov has had quite a bit of success indoors during his tennis career. He showed it in the opening match of the Laver Cup in Chicago. Dimitrov playing for Team Europe was dominant throughout the opening set and held serve at Love six times on route to a 6-1, 6-4 win over Frances Tiafioe of Team World.

Dimitrov, winner of three titles indoors including the year end ATP Finals in London in 2017, was firing on all cylinders during the 66 minute affair.  Only during two of his own service games did he face an adversity and he broke Tiafoe on all four chances he had.

 

Quite the contrast from the last time they played just a few weeks ago in the third round in Toronto which Dimitrov also won in three sets but needed two tiebreak wins to do so.

The 27-year old from Bulgaria finished with 27 winners and just 12 errors. Tiafoe had just seven winners and 13 mistakes.

“I enjoy playing indoors a lot, every time I get to play I feel everything moves a bit faster a bit smoother so I was just trying to embrace that,’ said Dimitrov. “I was a bit nervous coming into the match but after each game I started to being a little bit more comfortable”

There weren’t too many highlights from the opening match and the celebrations which we saw from the players a year ago in Prague were kept to a minimum. The only time we saw much from the extra team members was after a long rally between the two players won by Tiafoe. Team World went into a frenzy with Nick Kyrgios diving on to the floor and Jack Sock could be seen doing the “spoon to mouth” gesture indicating they can’t stop Tiafoe.

Well “they”, meaning Team Europe did stop him and Dimitrov registered the first point of the 2018 Laver Cup.

 

@Sportshorn

 

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Australian Open Day 6 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Saturday’s schedule is filled with compelling matches, as seeds begin to clash in these halves on the singles draws.

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Nick Kyrgios (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf 

 

Out of today’s 16 singles matches, seven will be contested between seeded players. On the women’s side, this is the first Major in over a decade that all top 10 women’s seeds advanced into the third round. With a lack of significant upsets through two rounds, we’re in for some marquee matchups as the first weekend of the tournament commences.

Karen Khachanov (16) vs. Nick Kyrgios (23)

When these two last met, Kyrgios turned a second round loss in Cincinnati into quite the circus. Nick was hit a record fine of over $100K, with his worst offenses including cursing at (and spitting in the direction of) the chair empire. In the second round two days ago, Kyrgios had a few similar outbursts directed towards his team. But otherwise Nick has appeared focused and motivated through two rounds.

Normally he would be an underdog against Khachanov in a best-of-five match, as the Russian has been the better player at the Majors over the past few seasons. However, Karen barely survived a gruelling second round match against Mikael Ymer on Thursday evening, which went over four-and-a-half hours and was decided in a fifth set tiebreak. Khachanov looked emotionally and physically drained following that encounter, and struggled to even get back to his feet when falling to the court after match point. With the Aussie crowd behind him, and a possible match against Rafael Nadal looming in the next round, I expect an inspired Kyrgios to prevail.

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Garbine Muguruza

Elina Svitolina (@TennisChannel – Twitter)

It’s startling to see no number next to Muguruza’s name, as the two-time Major winner is unseeded at a Slam for the first time in six years. That’s due to a dismal 2019 where she went 22-16 overall, and just 6-4 at the Majors. But she’s shown signs of rediscovering her confidence this month, with seven match wins to start the year. And she pulled out both her matches here in Melbourne despite suffering from illness. Muguruza made a coaching change in the offseason which should surely help her game, reuniting with Conchita Martinez, who helped guide her to a Wimbledon title a few years ago.

Garbine will need all the energy and confidence she can muster against one of the WTA’s best defenders. While Svitolina had a rough start to the year, losing 6-1, 6-1 to Danielle Collins in Brisbane, she’s yet to drop a set this week. She is 6-4 lifetime against Muguruza, and 5-1 on hard courts. I expect Muguruza to have a strong year ahead, but I suspect Svitolina will prove to be too much for her to handle on this day.

Stan Wawrinka (15) vs. John Isner (19)

Stan Wawrinka (@WeAreTennis – Twitter)

Wawrinka’s had a rough road thus far, playing nine sets and over six-and-a-half hours through two rounds. By contrast, Isner has played two less sets and spent nearly two less hours on court. The American has benefited from drawing clay court specialists in his first two rounds. While Isner is the lower seed, he’s 3-1 against Wawrinka, though it’s worth noting three of those matches took place in 2011 or earlier.

But Stan has achieved significantly better results at this event, with Isner possessing almost as many losses as wins in Melbourne. And John has struggled to recapture momentum after suffering a stress fracture in his foot last March during the Miami Open final. With the Melbourne courts playing a bit slower than usual, and the weather a bit cooler, that will slow down Isner’s big serve, and allow Wawrinka extra time to set for his big groundstrokes. I like the Stanimal to reach the round of 16 here for the seventh time.

David Goffin (11) vs. Andrey Rublev (17)

It’s one of tennis’ speediest players against one of its biggest strikers. Their only previous meeting was also arguably the biggest win of Rublev’s career.  In the fourth round of the 2017 US Open, the Russian prevailed in straight sets to reach his first Major quarterfinal. But soon after, a back injury would derail Andrey’s career, with his ranking dropping outside the top 100 a year ago. Rublev finally got his mojo back last summer, with wins in August over Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, and Stefanos Tsitsipas. And he’s only gotten hotter from there. In October, he won the Kremlin Cup in his home country on his 22nd birthday. He then went 4-0 at the Davis Cup in November. And Rublev is undefeated in 2020, already accumulating 10 match wins and two titles. Overall he’s on a 14-match winning streak, and is 22-3 since October.

While not quite as impressive, Goffin also had a nice summer and fall. And he went 3-1 to start the year at the ATP Cup, defeating both Grigor Dimitrov and Rafael Nadal. David’s defense will force Rublev to hit a few more winners than normal, and likely draw more errors. And as great as Rublev has been, the high volume of tennis he’s played this month will catch up with him sooner than later. However, I’m not betting against a player as confident as Rublev, who has the firepower to control his destiny in this match.

Karolina Pliskova (2) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (30)

Karolina Pliskova (@thefield_in – Twitter)

Is Karolina Pliskova finally ready to win a Major? The general consensus is she’s the best player yet to claim one, and she’s reached the second week at the last seven hard court Slams. She’s hoping the additions of Dani Vallverdu and Olga Savchuk to her coaching team will help get her over the hump. She certainly started off 2020 the right way, winning the title in Brisbane. And she’s the only player since September to defeat defending champion Naomi Osaka.  Karolina faces a player today who likes playing in Australia.

Pavlyuchenkova has reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne two of the last three years. And the 28-year-old Russian is coming off a strong fall season, as she was a finalist in both Osaka and Moscow. The problem for Anastasia is she’s 0-5 against Pliskova, winning only one of the 11 sets they’ve played. They have similar styles, though Karolina possesses a bit more power, control, and speed. While Pliskova should comfortably advance, this match may be a good gage of how serious a contender she should be considered.

Other notable matches on Day 6:

Rafael Nadal (@AustralianOpen – Twitter)

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Pablo Carreno Busta (27). Rafa has a history of dominating his fellow Spaniards, and he’s 4-0 against Carreno Busta.

Dominic Thiem (5) vs. Taylor Fritz (29). Both men survived five-setters in their last round.  Thiem is 2-0 against Fritz, with two four-set victories at recent US Opens.

Simona Halep (4) vs. Yulia Putintseva, who upset Danielle Collins on Thursday 7-5 in the third.

Daniil Medvedev (4) vs. 20-year-old Australian Alexei Popyrin. They played six months ago at Wimbledon, with Medvedev prevailing in four.

US Open semifinalist Belinda Bencic (6) vs. Anett Kontaveit (28). They were due to play in this same round of last year’s US Open, but Kontaveit withdrew due to illness.  Anett sat out the rest of 2019 as she battled that illness and also had a small operation.

 

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Australian Open Day Five: Gauff And Federer Win On Crazy Day In Melbourne

Ubitennis discusses a crazy day five at the Australian Open which saw Coco Gauff and Roger Federer advance into the second week.

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Coco Gauff (@usta- Twitter)

The fifth day of the Australian Open saw chaos unfold as Serena Williams, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Naomi Osaka crash out in Melbourne. There was also a big scare for Roger Federer against John Millman and Caroline Wozniacki’s career came to an end. Ubaldo Scanagatta analyses day five in the Australian Open in full. 

 

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Roger Federer Survives Millman Scare To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round

Roger Federer reached the Australian Open fourth round for the 18th time in his career after battling past John Millman.

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Roger Federer (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Roger Federer survived a massive scare to edge out John Millman 4-6 7-6(3) 6-4 4-6 7-6(8) to reach the Australian Open fourth round. 

 

The Swiss maestro won the last five points of the last set tiebreak to survive a scare from a spirited John Millman to reach the second week at the Australian Open for the 18th time.

As a result of the four hour win, Federer also seals his 100th Australian Open victory in what was a dramatic battle to end a crazy day.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1220705691700084736

Marton Fucsovics awaits Federer next after the Hungarian’s win over Tommy Paul.

The last time Roger Federer played his Australian opponent in a grand slam, he was beaten on a hot evening in New York and there were early signs that lightning was about to strike.

Crisp, clean hitting saw Millman trouble the 20-time grand slam champion early as he moved well around the court as well as serving big.

A 4-1 lead was consumed by the Aussie as the warning signs started to ring for Federer. Meanwhile the 3rd seed struggled to find consistency with the forehand as he took a while to tactically figure out Miilman.

Although Federer managed to take advantage of his opponent’s nerves to get the break back, a loose and uncharacteristic game from Federer sealed the opening set for Millman 6-4.

There was more clutch serving and big-hitting in the second set as the world number 47 continued to play some solid tennis.

However the 38 year-old Swiss produced a much better second set as he came to the net to finish points off quicker and took the match to Millman.

The only break point of the set saw the Australian hold off Federer as the second set tiebreak loomed. Champions turn up when they need to and despite Millman’s great start, the Swiss took control and dominated the tiebreak with some sensational shots.

It was one set all and six-time champion was feeling energetic and full of life again. This energy translated into the third set as Federer used his experience to increase the pressure and intensity.

Even though it wasn’t the best day at the office for him, Federer was still able to produce his best tennis when it mattered.

However Millman, incredibly, was able to match it at times and produced a few sensational points to hold from break point down to level at 4-4.

Eventually the Australian’s resolve was broken and a rare unforced error sealed a two sets to one lead for the 2018 champion who was still furious at himself.

Even though Federer had taken control, he wasn’t playing his best tennis as his forehand was becoming a liability with 16 unforced errors occurring in the fourth set.

Meanwhile Millman seemed energised as he was moving around the court and defending the ball like his life depended on it.

A break in the seventh game was enough as Millman ensured that late night drama would happen on a Friday night in Melbourne as he sealed the fourth set.

The momentum was with the Australian as he broke in the third game with some stunning returning before Federer immediately broke back in what was a tense contest.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1220691193408999426

Both men was struggling to find the consistency needed to dominate the final set as Federer struggled to break his opponent down.

Two good opportunities to seal the crucial break came and went for Millman as some clutch serving ensured Federer continued to survive in this contest.

As the match continued, Federer’s forehand unforced errors continued to mount and cost him in big moments under pressure.

Nobody could find the breakthrough needed, so a 10 point tiebreak would be played out to decide the winner. In the end it was Millman who played the more controlled and dominating tennis to secure a historic win and a place in the fourth round.

After the match, Federer praised Millman’s efforts, “Where to start … John played a great match, he’s a great fighter, a great guy and it came down to the wire. Maybe a bit of luck. I had to stay so focused to make the right decisions. What a match, John deserves over half of this one,” Federer said in his on-court interview.

In the end, experience paid dividends for Federer as he came back from 8-4 down in the tiebreak to survive a huge test and win the last six points of the tiebreak to book his place in the second week of the Australian Open.

Next up for Federer is Marton Fucsovics on Sunday.

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